Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Great Stone Face of Pennington Gap, Virginia

First, please read this reported reaction to the reported name of Rick Perry's lodge...

http://omg.yahoo.com/news/hero-or-hypocrite-sherri-shepherd-blasts-boss-barbara-walters-for-saying-n-word/73732?mwp_success=NONJS_POST_SUCCESS#mwpphu-post-form

I find it hard to believe that any state would elect a governor who's given that name to a place he owns, but this story gives me an opportunity to mention my last visit to Pennington Gap, Virginia.

Apart from scenery to admire and any personal acquaintances one might want to visit, other reasons to visit Pennington Gap include a charming old library that's kept a lot of books that are becoming hard to find, a nice Asian-type restaurant with a variety of gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan food items, and an interesting natural rock formation that really does resemble a man's face. The man in question would probably be African-American, and would almost certainly never get work in Hollywood.

Although Nathaniel Hawthorne has always had his share of fans in Pennington Gap, for a long time "The Great Stone Face" was not available as a name for Pennington Gap's piece of scenery. New Hampshire had a bigger rock formation that had been given that name first, although the rock in New Hampshire resembled a face from only a few angles. Even at the turn of the century, New Hampshire's Great Stone Face was memorialized on the state souvenir quarter coin.

However, in 2003, the original Great Stone Face crumbled away. (For a brief report on the incident, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Man_of_the_Mountain.) Pennington Gap snapped up the name and put an image of their own Great Stone Face into their official town logo.

There were and still are some people who think of Pennington Gap's rock formation as "N--head Rock," but the town has chosen to bypass the quibbling about hate speech and keep the focus on the scenery, where it belongs. I would have more confidence in Governor Perry if he would do likewise.